Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Reward of Running

Running is a an enormous sport, to the point where it's unofficially split into two categories: those who run to compete, and those who run to complete. As someone who has never been fast (even in peak fitness I average 11:30 minute miles), I've always associated with the latter group. Any competition is internal. Can I go farther than I did last week? Can I break my PR? Can I make it to the top of that hill? If I even think of another runner in a race, it's only as a means to motivate myself and not to defeat them. 

Races do give out shirts and medals...to every single participant. The top finishers often receive special prizes, but competing for those never even enters my mind. I run to be a part of the community, to have a deadline, and to celebrate what my body is capable of achieving. Running is its own reward.

That being said, I certainly appreciate an award! The oh-so talented Miss Katie from Brave Juice recently received the Liebster Award for her stunning and introspective blog. Please be sure to read and follow her. She writes with a rare thoughtfulness. As part of her recognition, she kindly passed the honor on to me. 

The Liebster Award is given to new blogs with fewer than 200 followers. The intent is to shine light on lesser known writers, who in turn pass the award on to other deserving blogs. The only catch is the writer must share eleven random facts about herself. Here goes!

  1. I'm an extreme creature of habit, and this becomes even more evident when I'm training. I have the same dinner the night before a long run (Jimmy Johns Vito sandwich with Gatorade), the same breakfast before a long run (one cup of black coffee and a Clif bar), and intense brand loyalty to running gear. If Asics ever discontinues my beloved GT 2170s, I will wear black for days and grieve.
  2. My biggest fear is tripping on stairs and losing a tooth.
  3. I'm a closet college sports fanatic. Autumn Saturdays are devoted to football, and I like March Madness more than Christmas. 
  4. I prefer mustard to ketchup in almost every scenario.
  5. I like my cat more than I like most people. Four years ago I adopted a rescue cat named Clyde. He plays fetch like a puppy and watches birds. It's adorable. 
  6. I'm pro-Oxford comma. Keep your lists nice and clear, folks.
  7. I'm a recovering coffee addict, down from 2-3 cups per day to 2-3 cups per week.
  8. Confession: I tell people my favorite actress is Frances McDormand, but secretly it's Catherine O'Hara. Best in Show and Home Alone are the greatest two movies ever made.
  9. I'm relatively low maintenance, but I love to indulge with a pedicure.
  10. Avocados are my favorite food. I could eat one with every meal.  
  11. I'm a complete sucker for a coming-of-age story. Go on and find yourself, girl.

Please enjoy these terrific blogs (and new Liebster Award recipients!):

Free Range Quest: Kristina and David are converting a school bus into an RV, and documenting each step in their journey. This blog celebrates following your heart, pursuing adventure, and trusting love over money. 

Flirty Nerdy 30: As Neah began a new decade, she embraced the change by challenging herself to complete 30 new adventures. Her blog documents each goal and inspires readers to challenge themselves as well.

Thank you again to Brave Juice for the recognition. Please be sure to read each of these wonderful blogs!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Enemy of Good

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. 

I ran one mile this morning. It may seem insignificant, but a short run is better than no run at all.  An endless To Do list and full work day brought me home sooner than usual. I could have skipped the run altogether and jumped right into my busy day, but I didn't. I went outdoors. I saw the sunshine. I got my heart rate going. Outside responsibilities can't be ignored altogether, but neither can wellness. Today I had a tiny sliver of time, and I made the best of it. 

Running can be daunting, and the first step out the door is the hardest. If you only have time for a short run, or it takes 15 minutes to complete a mile, or you need to walk up the hills, don't worry. Wherever you are, it's better than not trying at all. 

You may not be perfect, but you're good. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Peace of Mind

It's a long day in the middle of a long week. Yes, it's Friday, but the weekend is completely booked with no signs of stopping. It's exactly the kind of day to pull the covers over my head and wait out the storm, but that's simply not an option.

I woke up early this morning and went for a run. Given the long day ahead of me, I considered hitting the snooze button for an extra hour of sleep. It would have been warm. It would have been cozy. But I'm glad I didn't.

Running is my sanctuary. It's one of the few ways I can turn off the noise and decompress. I never run with headphones in -- primarily for safety reasons, but also for sanity. I like to be aware of my surroundings and take it all in. I can focus on my body, my breathing, or nothing at all. This morning, that peace of mind was especially needed. It was a shorter run -- just two miles -- but more than enough to get my thoughts in place.

I appreciate the structure and clarity running brings to my life. And today, I needed it more than ever.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Small Victories

Small victories are rarely celebrated enough. I ran four miles today, and the first one felt great. 

Miles two and three felt fine, and the fourth was admittedly tough, but the first mile felt great. This is an accomplishment worth noting. I haven't run more than three miles in almost a year, but today I completed one strong mile, two average miles, and I muscled through to finish the fourth. I was passed by runners who are faster than I am, and probably were running a greater distance. It's tempting to turn every run into a race, and to compare myself to other people. But their journey is their own, and today's four miles are all mine.

Time takes time, and you can't wait until the end to be proud of yourself. Training for a race is a long commitment. If you wait until the medal at the finish line to feel any sense of accomplishment, you may get discouraged and stop pushing forward. Every step, every run, every new milestone matters. Be proud of the process, and be proud of your progress.

Here's to small victories.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

All Are Welcome

Running is the most inclusive sport, which is why I love it so much. All are welcome here. There are no complicated rules to learn, or passwords to memorize, or membership fees to pay. It's just left foot, right foot. You move your legs and go.

I need to keep reminding myself of this as I gradually rebuild my strength and stamina. My current pace is slower than it was a year ago, and my current definition of a long run is three miles. But I'm still a runner, and still a part of this amazing community. 

Running isn't determined by your job title or how much money you have. It doesn't matter what your last name is, who you voted for, or the color of your hair. Granted, some people have a genetically favorable advantage, but it ultimately comes down to hard work and discipline. We're all capable of that. If Oscar Pistorius can become an Olympic runner without having legs, the rest of us certainly have no excuse. There truly is room for everyone. 

The running community is wide open to anyone who wants to participate. One block, one mile, or one marathon. You want to be a runner? Then run.